To hear the full audio report (16 minutes long) click the title above.
This piece begins with clips from radio in Australia and New Zealand. A minister in New Zealand makes clear their objections to continued Japanese whaling in the internationally designated whale sanctuary. So far the Japanese have slaughtered over 18,000 whales from this sanctuary. Neither Australia nor New Zealand have enforced the rules to protect whales – even though New Zealand has sent ships down to protect fish.
We learn this from a recorded interview with Paul Watson, commander of the Sea Shepherd Society. Two of their boats were trying to stop the Japanese whaling, and they claim they were rammed by the main factory boat, the Nissan Miru. That boat caught fire just a day after the Sea Shepherd boats, low on fuel, left for Melbourne. The Nissan Miru had another fire in 1998, but this one is more serious. The 140 plus crew abandoned ship, going to the whale chasing boats. The fire was eventually “contained” and may now be out. The Sea Shepherd boats “Farley Mowat” and the “Robert Hunter” (both named after Canadian environmentalists and authors) limped into Melbourne harbor today, just 24 hours before registration ran out on the Robert Hunter.
The Farley Mowat was deregistered by the Canadian government, in a bureaucratic move last summer, stripping its classification as a “yacht.” Doubtless this harassment was due to both Japanese pressure, and Canadian displeasure with Watson’s persistent protests of the Canadian seal slaughter. So technically, anyone can seize the Farley Mowat as a “pirate” ship. Watson has said he intended to retire the ship, and now proposes it be made into a whale museum in Melbourne harbor. This story continues.
Meanwhile, the Greenpeace protest ship “Esperanza” has reached the crippled whaler. The Esperanza is a former Russian sea tug, and the only tow capable boat any where near the Nissan Miru. Greenpeace has offer to tow the whaling boat away from the Antarctic shore. The damaged vessel is only 100 nautical miles away from one of the world’s greatest Penguin breeding grounds.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand has urged the Japanese to swallow their pride, and their talk of environmental terrorism, and accept a tow from Greenpeace, to avoid the risk of spilling thousands of gallons of oil and toxic chemicals into the sea, and perhaps into the Penguin grounds. So far, the Japanese have refused, leaving the ship without power, sandwiched between two whale chasing ships, which are not capable of towing the big factory ship in rough weather. The Greenpeace ship, on the other hand, is quite capable of such a task.
We hear this in an original Radio Ecoshock interview with Steve Shallhorn, the Executive Director of Greenpeace Australia. He’s a long-time campaigner with the International Organization, and a son of Greenpeace Canada. Steve, can you tell us what is going on with the crippled Japanese whaling ship, in the Southern Ocean?
[please listen to the interview]
New Zealand’s Prime Minister has warned Japan of being too proud to accept help, even from Greenpeace. He fears an ecological disaster for the Antarctic Coast, and especially the Penguins. Is it really that serious, and would Greenpeace help a whaling ship?
Millions of people around the world will be relieved the slaughter has stopped, at least for now. Perhaps a thousand magnificent whales will live at least another year. Could this be the end of the line for Japanese whaling?
[If the ship is too damaged, and this is its second big fire, Shallhorn cannot believe the Japanese will build a new “research” vessel to exploit more whales from the Sanctuary.]
Greenpeace International has been saying “We love Japan but hate whaling.” What is the feeling there in Australia, about killing whales in a designated International Whale Sanctuary?
Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd society brought a lot of publicity to this issue. How do you feel about his latest voyage?
Steve, a minister in New Zealand said a tug may be dispatched from that country, but he wouldn’t expect a whaling vessel to come to a New Zealand port, considering the governments opposition, and vocal public opposition, to whaling. How do you see this playing out?
On a personal note, I know you were an anti-nuclear campaigner for years, and have seen American warships much too close up, from a zodiac. Have you been up close and personal with whales as well?
I asked that personal question, because killing whales drives a lot of people to despair – for us humans. Is there an end to this madness? What can we do?
We’ve been speaking with Steve Shallhorn, Executive Director of Greenpeace Australia. Thanks Steve.
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